House on fire

I think before writing this update it's useful to recap where we are with our indoor bees. All of our indoor bees have been rescued from the garden - all of them have had some kind of wing problem which has prevented them from being able to fly. This means they can't feed unless they were to stay in their own hive.

But I learnt my lesson with the first one, trying to put her back in the hive twice. An hour later she was back out again on the lawn, destined to prey or die of starvation. 

So, we created an indoor environment to house our disadvantaged. It started off as an ordinary ice-cream tub but has pretty much evolved into a full scale incubator with indoor nest box, infra-red heating and "daylight" lighting. And of course, 3 video cameras! 

indoor "incubator"

So, at the time of writing we've had four disabled bumblebees come into care. In chronoligcal order (often the best), they are as follows:


  • Holly - confirmed female - very small, missing left wing and left middle leg, and twisted body
  • BLB ("Big Little Bee") - confirmed male - now deceased - same missing wing and leg as Holly
  • TLB ("Tiny Little Bee") - unconfirmed female - actually just slightly larger than Holly - 1 broken right wing
  • LBB ("Little Bigger Bee") - unconfirmed male - one missing left wing


We added LBB to the "incubator" last week and discovered that he got on really well with Holly - neither of them moidered each other. Since then LBB has been very busy in his new world - scooting from the nestbox to the outside and back again with regular fervour. 

Meanwhile TLB was in isolation in her own tub as we monitored her strength. It's hard to believe that this miniscule creature has recovered from a state of apparent death to darting around her box, climbing on lavender and feeding herself from the natural nectar rather than the honey water we freely provided for her. As her strength obviously continued to build, we took the decision that it was safe to introduce her to the other bees with some initial supervision. 

We are pleased to say it went very well, and just like LBB she has spent her time chasing round the big box, often in the footsteps of LBB. (Apologies for the picture quality - it's an iPhone screenshot from Skype over 2G!)

LBB and TLB explore together

Also like LBB, she has (at least initially) developed  a routine of coming in and out of the nestbox itself to explore the outer surroundings, and then head indoors for some relaxation and recovery. Quite often, in fact, this seemed to be in synchronisation with each other. At one point LBB even tipped TLB upright when she fell over on her back. What a wonderful thing to see. 

Finally, here's a picture of all three inside the nest box, getting along like a house on fire.

 3 bees in a boxWe are really hoping, that since bees are eusocial, allowing them to co-habit will actually be beneficial for them and help them develop or carry out their meaningful roles. So far, so good! Though I do wonder what chaos tomorrow will bring!